banff mountain festival
(Photo/Banff Mountain Centre)

Canada’s Big Wins in Mountaineering and MTB, Plus 5 More Stories to Start Your Week

From the inspiring to the tragic, ‘Adventure News of the Week’ presents a wrap-up of top news in the world of exploration and adventure. Here’s what you missed this weekend, and a few things to look forward to.

Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival announced Helen Sovdat as the 2021 Summit of Excellence winner for her significant contributions to mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies. Notably, Sovdat was the third North American woman to achieve IFMGA Mountain Guide certification, the highest level attainable.

“Sovdat has proven herself in many of the world’s great ranges. From the St. Elias to the Andes, and the Himalayas, she’s made ascents of Ama Dablam, Manaslu (8,156 m, first Canadian ascent), and Cho Oyu (8,201 m, first Canadian women). In the Canadian Rockies, she’s climbed all 56 11,000-foot peaks,” reported Gripped.com.

Banff also announced this year’s Mountain Film Festival winners across 10 categories, as well as the Mountain Book Competition Grand Prize winner, “Finding the Mother Tree” by Suzanne Simard.

Canadians Vaea Verbeeck and Bas van Steenbergen are the Crankworx MTB champions for 2021. Verbeeck is now the two-time defending women’s champion, while van Steenbergen is celebrating his first title win of the series, a years-long hunt according to Cycling Magazine. The coronation took place Sunday afternoon in Rotorua, NZ, following a week of elite mountain biking races.

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On the subject of return victors, Dutch icon Lars van der Haar stormed the European cyclocross championships over the weekend. It’s the first time since 2015 that the elite cyclist has enjoyed the title. His compatriot, Lucinda Brand, took first in women’s by a minute-wide margin.

Out of the top five men’s competitors, van der Haar is the lone Dutchman — runners-up Quinten Hermans, Michael Vanthourenhout, Toon Aerts, and Laurens Sweeck all hail from Belgium. This week, cyclocross’s best will head to the Czech Republic for the next stop in the UCI World Cup series.

In a feat of incomparable measure, Slovenian climber Janja Garnbret became the first woman to onsight 5.14b (8c), as reported by GJ and ExplorersWeb. The Olympic gold medalist did it not just once, but twice in a matter of 2 days — first with her send of Chris Sharma’s classic “Fish Eye,” and then with “American Hustle.” Both routes rest at Spain’s iconic Oliana cliff in Catalonia.

Extra credit: Onsight means to climb a route that you have no prior experience on or knowledge of without falling or having to “take” (weight the rope). It’s considered the purest style of sport climbing.

November is Avalanche Awareness Month, and onX Backcountry is donating $10 of every onX Backcountry membership purchased this month to fund local avalanche centers. To participate in onX Backcountry’s “Support Your Forecast” stewardship program, purchase your membership within the month of November through the program’s website. There you can select which of the country’s 25 avalanche centers your subscription will support.

While a litany of winter resorts are opening early due to record snowfall, one prepares for demolition. Sugar Loaf ski resort in northern Michigan, once hailed as “the gem of the entire Midwest,” has been condemned after 20-plus years of functional abandonment.

“The township is extremely happy that the buildings are coming down and will no longer be a health and safety hazard,” township supervisor Tim Stein said in an interview. No plans to restore the resort to its former glory have been announced.

And Arc’teryx opened its first ReBird Service Center on Saturday in NYC. The first of its kind hybrid retail model will offer Arc’teryx retail, complimentary onsite assessments, care, and education; technical wash service, DWR fabric renewal, and simple onsite repairs. Learn more at Arcteryx.

Arc'teryx ReBird Center in NYC
(Photo/Arc’teryx)
Jilli Cluff
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Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas, where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.